It was a cold start this morning with a hard frost. It’s only in the last 2-3 years I’ve started coming to Greece out of season so I’m not used to seeing frost over here.
I enjoyed a buffet breakfast at the hotel – I started with bacon, sausage and egg then had yoghurt and honey.
First on my list of things to do today was to visit the Σπηλιά του Δράκου (Cave of the Dragon) where I had a guided tour – all in Greek (it was a group of maybe 15-20 people). Inside the cave there are 7 lakes, and 10 rooms in total. The cave and lakes looked very impressive – it is a shame taking photos inside was forbidden.
There’s a small cafe next to the cave so I sat there in the sunshine with a drink and some buscuits – It feels very European to sit outsde in freezing weather!
I got back in the car and headed out of town; My destination was the Εθνικό Πάρκο Πρεσπών (Prespa National Park). Tucked away near the borders of Albana and Northern Macedonia, the park is great for bird watching.
It’s also bear country; In Britain road signs warn you to look out for deer – but here road signs warn you to look out for bears. Even on the motorway, overhead electronic signs along the A2 and A29 motorways read Attention – Danger – Bear’s Habitat – Drive carefully.
The two lakes – Megali (Big) and Mikri (Small) Prespa are the highest-altitude lakes in the Balkan region, at about 850m above sea level.
My first stop in the area was at Ψαράδες – Psarades. The only Greek village on the Megali lake, the name means Fishermen – It is a traditional fishing village. I didn’t know what to expect before I arrived. Being in such close proximity to both Albania and Macedonia I wondered whether I’d notice any influence from either of those two countries.
In truth Psarades felt as Greek as any other place I’ve been to in the country. Tourism has arrived in the village now – Along the main street are tourist shops, cafes and restaurants. The only clue as to the fact an 2 international borders with 2 non-EU countriws lay out in the lake, was the presence of a police boat.
I had time to buy a souvenir from Psarades to take home, and had lunch in the village too. This region is where the Gigantes beans are grown on a massive scale. The beans were on sale just about everywhere – and all the restaurants had them on the menu. I know I had gigantes last night – but it would be rude not to. So lunch today was gigantes starter with bread, then grilled chicken served with chips.
The other stop I made was at the village of Agios Achilleos. An island accessible only by a long floating bridge stretching across the lake from the car park on the mainland to the island. The island itself just has one main street with a restaurant and a hotel, and a few residential buildings – plus lots of animals roaming the island: chickens and cattle are in charge here. There’s a good viewpoint on the island too, if you don’t mind climbing up a hill.
Returning to Kastoria and I had a light meal for dinner – pita gyros and some chips.
Long day tomorrow – Driving all the way back to Athens before I fly back home in the evening. So I’d better get some rest!